Gladiators lose Arena Bowl to Arizona, 72-32

Gladiators lose Arena Bowl to Arizona, 72-32

The Arizona Rattlers defense intercepted four passes as Arizona defeated the Cleveland Gladiators 72-32 in ArenaBowl XXVII.  A Quicken Loans Arena crowd of 18,410 witnessed the game; a crowd that is the largest in the AFL this season and the largest home crowd in Gladiators history.  Arizona won the ArenaBowl for the third straight season.  Thyron Lewis posted eight catches, 134 yards, and a touchdown for the Gladiators, who finished the regular season with a record-setting 17 wins.

Arizona's opening drive resulted in a 41-yard touchdown pass from Nick Davila to Rod Windsor, and the Rattlers never surrendered their lead.  The Gladiators drove to the Arizona eight-yard line on their first offensive series of the game, but the Rattlers Kerry Reed intercepted a Shane Austin pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown to extend their lead to 14-0.  The Gladiators Collin Taylor found the end zone when Austin connected with him from nine yards with 2:28 left in the opening quarter to cut the Arizona lead to 14-6, but Arizona scored 23 straight points to take a 37-6 with 5:05 remaining in the first half.

Arizona seized the momentum in the game when Cliff Dukes sacked Austin in the end zone for a safety with 12:47 left in the second quarter.  Overall, Arizona outscored the Gladiators 30-7 in the second quarter to take control of the game.

In the second half, the two clubs battled back-and-forth, with Arizona outscoring the Gladiators 21-20 in the second half to preserve the 72-32 victory.  Dominick Goodman posted a standout second-half for the Gladiators, registering all three Gladiators touchdowns in the second half.  Goodman finished the game with seven catches for 60 yards and three touchdowns.  Shane Austin completed 18 of 41 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted four times.  In a relief appearance, quarterback Chris Dieker completed four of his nine passing attempts for 68 yards and two touchdowns.

The Gladiators played their first ArenaBowl, while the Rattlers franchise tied records with their ninth ArenaBowl appearance and fifth ArenaBowl victory.